I recently came across a journal I kept in my early thirties where I’d listed everything I thought I wanted in order to be happy and successful.
Most of the items were things — the kind of house I desired, the car I wanted, furniture and clothes I coveted. On some level, I believed having the trappings of a successful life would translate into creating the feelings of a happy life. Once I accumulated those things, I would be fulfilled.
My perspective at the time was flawed. I didn’t realize how fleeting the satisfaction of attainment can be. I didn’t anticipate the empty feeling that follows success or the slow awareness I was chasing an illusion. Those highly desirable things I was chasing weren’t so fulfilling after all.
The joy of getting what you want dissipates quickly, leaving you with . . . what? Confusion. Restlessness. More longing.
Material things can be nice, and they are fun to accumulate — especially when they are part of a passion, hobby, or lifestyle you enjoy. But things and money and prestige don’t provide the one thing every single one of us desires. Fulfillment.
We want our lives to be deeply satisfying and meaningful — not just at the end of our lives looking back, but at every step along the way.